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Environmental Justice

Charge on Youth Perspectives on Climate Change

Tackling climate change requires concerted coordinated government action as well as an informed and collaborative effort by individuals. One of the goals for EJ 2020 is to collaborate with partners and expand our impact in communities with environmental justice concerns. Integral to expanding that impact is to include the perspectives of young people in the conversations and thought processes about how overburdened communities are disproportionately impacted by climate change and share in the distribution of opportunities that enhance resiliency.


EPA requested that the NEJAC provide recommendations to assist the Agency in developing best practices for addressing climate change concerns, as highlighted from a youth perspective. Specifically, the NEJAC is requested to identify best practices to address:

  1. How can EPA effectively engage with youth on climate change and adaptation planning using new resources and tools designed to help communities become more resilient and better protect themselves from the impacts of climate change? What activities and mechanisms (e.g. policy, guidance, or protocol) should EPA consider to authentically engage and work collaboratively with youth, and other interested stakeholders, to identify and address climate change impacts on overburdened and vulnerable communities?
  2. What best practices, including efforts to address the compounding health vulnerabilitiesbrought on by climate change, can be provided using youth driven projects from across theUnited States from which results-oriented recommendations can be drawn?


Youth constitute the majority of the population in many countries and have increasingly strong social awareness and environmental perspectives. The EPA recognizes the key role that youth play in bringing awareness to climate change and offering solutions to transform our societies towards a low-carbon and climate resilient future.

Their perspective is critical to the dialogue and should be acknowledged and incorporated in the decision making processes of the Agency. Tackling climate change requires concerted coordinated government action as well as an informed and collaborative effort by individuals. In strengthening EPA’s proactive response to climate change, recognizing the viewpoints of the youth will greatly enhance our comprehensive approach to prevention and mitigation.

Administrator Gina McCarthy stated in an EPA Climate Justice Blog, that,” [she was] moved by the words of Jibreel Khazan spoken in Greensboro, NC on the 55th anniversary of the Greensboro Four who, on February 1, 1960, began a sit-in at the segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter :

"Climate change is young people’s ‘lunch counter moment’ for the 21st century. When my three classmates and I sat down at that lunch counter to end segregation we did not know what the outcome would be. We simply knew that we had to act. We had to take bold action for necessary change to come about. It is in the tradition of civil and human rights struggle that young people today are calling for action on climate change. It is the biggest threat to justice and opportunity our planet has ever seen."

Administrator McCarthy observed:

"Fighting for environmental justice, and climate justice, echoes the spirit of America’s great civil rights leaders; it’s a spirit fueled by our moral obligation to leave our children a world safer and rich with opportunity. History proves even the most wrenching strains on justice can be unwound, with a committed, diverse, and vocal coalition of people calling for change. That’s why EPA, the Hip Hop Caucus, and organizations around the country are fighting for climate justice—so we can further fairness and opportunity for all." i

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